Angellala Siding; when locomotives needed water.


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For purposes of this story, I Googled Angellala Siding and got the usual suspects such as best properties, where to dine and water slides and et cetera. Google Earth refused to accept the place-name and suggested a spell check. The nearest town of Morven was given credence, but where the water stop once stood, just blank. Sommariva, the last siding before Charleville is there, then a low profile railway siding like Angellala but memory suggests it was a flying gang base and if that is so, would confirm its existence on Queensland’s railway map.

I’m not given to poring over ancient digitized newspapers but was pleased to find a 1934 Courier Mail country report on Alice Downs in which events on a sheep station just over the way from the water stop were worthy of attention. An Augathella death is noted, just as in 1962, the demise in Morven of a local businessman and his funeral arrangements was reported over the local radio station in suitable melancholic tones. Why Alice Downs activities are with those of Augthalla which is a separate entity far to the north probably made sense at the time. 1934 CM story follows:

“AUGATHELLA The death has occurred of Mn. Elizabeth Vincent, an old resident of this town, at the age of 71. She is survived by three sons and six daughters. This district has made a splendid recovery since the rains, but more rain is urgently needed on the stock route between here and Tambo. Mr. Winter, Junior, has taken over the management of Angellala Downs station. It is understood that Alice Downs Station, near Angellala Siding, is to be turned into a sheep run as soon as the log pest has been taken In hand next year.”

Angellala S. 1961, taken by Ian, visiting.

Photos by visiting relative taken in front of fettlers dongas.

About half a kilometre to the left or south of the water tank was the Alice Downs homestead which also had grazing land to the right, or north of the rail/ Warrego Highway corridor. Beyond the Brisbane bound, once élite Westlander, barely discernible in the photo, lay what was reputed to be the longest timber rail bridge in Qld. Despite being diesel powered, the Westlander stopped at Angellala allowing alcohol starved fettlers to buy half bottles of cold Riesling. Within spitting distance of the road and the rail was the weir, purpose built to supply water to the tower. During one rare wet season, the creek was in flood with water cascading over the low weir.

By elimination, it was a Saturday when cries for assistance sent a friend and self running to the weir where two young men were being tumbled like rag dolls in the boilover and were beyond helping themselves. Mouth to mouth is an accepted life-saving form today but was in its infancy then and we gave it a fair shot but the boys never made it. During the ambulance/police follow-up, the mother disappeared and was later found confused and inconsolable with grief. The family had that day interred an older brother/son and after the ceremony was homebound when they stopped at the weir.

Upstream from the weir, laying in its own wreckage and uncontaminated by other refuse, was a dumped household wood-burning stove. Some thirteen years later, Cath and I were doing a caravan tour and camped at the weir. It was an impromptu stop which you could do then provided you kept to yourselves and weren’t of threatening nature. It was a bitterly cold July night and my foresight had armed me with a bottle of Bundy. Morning, and I took Grumpy, our dog for a walk.

We came across the Greenslopes built Crown stove, made in the foundry bounded by Sackville and Plimsoll Streets and Logan Road, which is now a shopping centre. Undisturbed since its earlier discovery, I poked at the enameled cast iron remains and found a steel plate with the year 1914 and No 2 stamped on it. That will do me for date of manufacture and model number. Too irresistible to abandon, I souvenired it and when Cath died, painted her name on the reverse side and used it to id her plot until the plaque could be set.

Crown Stoves Data Side.

44cms X 17cms with stamped numbers, No 2 and 1914.

That northern paddock was the scene of animal attack on more than one occasion where the writer was forced to defend himself by eliminating the threat and later dining on their remains. Stinker goat skins were flung over the fence to reassure concerned parties that no stock was harmed in the telling of this story.

“Once Upon A Time In The West.”

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